“Looked in the mirror the other day, caught my reflection,” sing Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart in the song “3 2 4 3.” The Chicago-based duo are the driving force behind Ohmme, who released the sophomore album Fantasize Your Ghost on June 5 (Joyful Noise Recordings).
The mirror imagery works perfectly for Ohmme, not just in “3 2 4 3” but in the band’s entire catalog, as Cunningham and Stewart sing all of their songs together. Two voices, reflecting off each other and existing as one.
“3 2 4 3” is about reflecting on life, wanting to change but finding it difficult. It uses repetition to build on points, making them stronger—something Ohmme does so effectively all throughout Fantasize Your Ghost. The chorus features the narrator repeatedly pointing out that they’re “Different today, but I’m the same.”
The song closes with the feeling of walking through a funhouse hall of mirrors, repeating “Filling the holes to make amends. Tearing them up to start again…” And as the song concludes, you’re left wondering if the narrator has given up, with the final “again” cut off.
It’s brilliant stuff, and you’ll find it all over this album.
Formed in 2014, Ohmme uses vocals that complement each other beautifully, with perfect harmonies and a noise-rock style that gives them a distinctive edge. Cunningham and Stewart have previously collaborated with other Chicago acts such as Chance the Rapper, Jeff Tweedy, and Twin Peaks. But they are out on their own now, and it’s very exciting.
The group released their debut album, Parts, in 2018. I enjoyed Parts—especially the first half of the album—but Fantasize Your Ghost has brought things up a level. Ohmme has grown and expanded on its already-unique sound to make something truly wonderful.
The first two tracks of the album both remind me of listening to alternative acts like The Breeders and Veruca Salt in the mid-’90s. It brings back some amazing memories, as that era was so formative in my love for music.
“Flood Your Gut” hammers home in its chorus “Your whole vision’s not enough” in a cheerful call to action that contrasts with the dark and mysterious tones of the verse portions of the song. This song is another great example of how Ohmme effectively uses repetition to create a mood.
“Selling Candy,” one of my favorite tracks of the album, is composed of only three short verses depicting an innocent occurrence of walking home selling candy and playing games like “the ground is lava.” But in between each verse is an explosion of noise and angst that can’t help but get you pumped up. The contrast of these breakdowns with the happy melodies of the verses is simply magical.
The energy continues with “Ghost” —which THUMPS and features a short but killer guitar solo—and “The Limit” —which will make you want to get up and dance in a weird, abstract way. (No, I don’t know this from personal experience…I promise.)
Things are taken down a notch with tunes such as “Spell It Out” and “Twitch.” But rather than halt the momentum of the album, they add a layer of sadness and beauty beneath the surface. I love the outro of “Twitch,” with spacey guitars, keys, strings and repeating lyrics in a dream-like quality.
The final triad of songs on Fantasize Your Ghost are a fascinating contrast. “Some Kind of Calm” makes you feel like your meditating, with its soft twangy guitars and harmonized, relaxing vocals. Once again, we get the repetition used at the end of this song: “Some kind of calm is understandable… It’s understandable.”
The most laid-back track on the album leads into the most jarring: “Sturgeon Moon,” a four-minute noise-rock instrumental journey that’s part Sonic Youth, part space trip. The divergence of these songs is something to behold.
To close out the album is “After All,” probably the poppiest song on the album, but also incredibly catchy. The final two lines of the song, “After all, I let my hair down. After all, I need to plant my rose,” seem to convey Ohmme planting their flag and announcing their presence. Cunningham and Stewart have created an accessible, yet complex, beautiful record in Fantasize Your Ghost that has me very excited to see where Ohmme can go from here.